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The Jazz History Of St. Louis-Part 1: The Ragtime Era And The Roaring Twenties

Jazz Unlimited on Sunday, July 6 will be the first installment of the ten-week radio documentary on the jazz history of St. Louis.  Not only do we have the music, but also we have interviews with the people who made that history.  The interviewees for the first installment include St. Louis historian Judge Nathan Young, internationally known ragtime expert Trebor Jay Tichenor, tuba player Singleton Palmer, bandleader Eddie Johnson, trumpeters Clark Terry and David Hines and the great-grandson of the man who started the St. Louis trumpet tradition, Charles Creath IV.  We will hear music from Tom Turpin, Scott Joplin, Charles Creath, Dewey Jackson and many others.

We will answer the following questions about St. Louis history.

  • Who was the real king of ragtime in St. Louis?
  • How big a part did ragtime music have in the 1904 World’s Fair?
  • Were the bands on the excursion boats jazz bands or the Roaring 20’s equivalent of modern cover bands?
  • Did his nearly yearlong stay in St. Louis affect Bix Beiderbecke’s music?

Check out the historic photos in the slide show.
This Archive of the show will be available until the morning of July 14, 2014.

Here is Trebor Tichebor playing "Harlem Rag" in San Francisco in 2008

Dennis Owsley has broadcast a weekly jazz show for St. Louis Public Radio since April 1983. He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and is a retired Monsanto Senior Science Fellow and college teacher. His show, Jazz Unlimited, airs every Sunday from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. The show has the largest jazz audience in St. Louis and was named Best Jazz Radio Show in St. Louis for the years 2005-2007 and 2009 by the Riverfront Times. In celebration of his 25 years on the air, January 24, 2008 was proclaimed Dennis Owsley Day" in the City of St. Louis. He is the 2010 winner of the St. Louis Public Radio Millard S. Cohen Lifetime Achievement Award. Dennis is also a noted photographer, and his exhibit, In the Moment: Photographs of Jazz Musicians, ran from September 23, 2005 to January 21, 2006 at the Sheldon Art Gallery. He is a lifetime student of jazz history and teaches short courses on the subject. Dennis is the author of the award-winning book City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis 1985-1973, published in 2006.